The elegant Groenendael is a muscular black dog, solid but not heavy, and very agile, with a proud carriage. The body is squarely proportioned. The triangular ears stand erect and the muzzle is long and tapering. The coat is very full, moderately long, with a ruff around the neck and extra feathering on the underside, legs and tail. There is a dense undercoat. The Belgian Sheepdog is a very athletic and able dog that is alert, intelligent yet also a very good companion dog. They are very similar in overall appearance to the German Shepherd although the Belgian Sheepdog is typically all black or black with a very slight amount of white allowed on the chest and the muzzle, with white tips allowed on the hind toes and between the pads of the feet. The face and lower legs are covered with short hair. A little white on the chest, chin or toes is permitted in the standard. The long feathered tail reaches at least to the hocks. The brown eyes are almond shaped and the nose is black. The chest is neither broad nor narrow, but is deep, reaching to the elbow. The hindquarters are muscular, without looking heavy. The front legs are very straight and parallel to each other, with round cat-feet. Dewclaws may be removed from the front legs and should be removed from the back legs. The muzzle tapers, but is not excessively pointy. The skull is flat and parallel to the plain of the muzzle. The lips should be tight. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite.
The Belgian Shepherd/Groenendael is the most popular of the four Belgian Sheepdogs. It is a very smart and obedient dog… serious and watchful with strong protective and territorial instincts. Some are very shy or sensitive. This breed needs extensive socialization from an early age and firm, but not harsh, training from an experienced master. If you are harsh or overbearing they will become uncooperative. This breed is instinctively protective so it should be trained and socialized very well from an early age. Breeders should socialize puppies right from birth. Good for working and competition obedience. These dogs make excellent police and guard dogs. This type of work is currently their main occupation. They do however, make excellent pets. They are ever watchful, alert and loyal, and they thrive on loving companionship. The Belgian Sheepdog is a very sensitive dog and will respond to the slightest sound of disapproval in the owner’s voice. Without proper socialization they can become timid and very shy, or may also become overly aggressive if they feel trapped or cornered. With proper socialization from an early age the Belgian Sheepdog will be a very well-adjusted and well balanced dog, good as both a companion and a family protector and watchdog. Belgian Sheepdogs are good with children if socialized well with them. This breed needs to be part of the family and not locked up in a kennel. It does best given ample time, attention, training and companionship. If this breed is ignored, it will find ways to entertain itself, often at the owner’s expense. The Belgian Shepherd has a lot of energy and needs a job to do. Working lines can have particularly high drive. It tends to bond strongly with one or two people. Take care when introducing this dog with small non-canine pets. Generally this Sheepdog gets along well with children, but they can be rather dominant toward other dogs. Provided they are correctly socialized with cats and other pets, they should not present any problems. This Belgian Sheepdog may instinctively display herding behavior such as chasing and circling, moving effortlessly for hours and nipping at people’s heels. This is a very demanding dog that is becoming more and more popular. It needs an experienced owner for it can easily be difficult to control unless the owner knows how to handle him. There can be wide differences in temperament and aggressiveness. Talk to someone experienced with the breed before you buy your dog. These dogs are often impressive; don’t base your purchase solely on achievement records and appearances. Animals displaying excessive aggression or fearfulness should be avoided.
Height: Dogs 24-26 inches (61-66 cm.) Bitches 22-24 inches (56-61 cm.)
Weight: Dogs 65-75 pounds (29-34 kg.) Bitches 60-70 pounds (27-32 kg.)
This hardy, healthy breed has no major health concerns. Some minor concerns that have been seen are epilepsy, skin allergies, eye problems, excessive shyness, excessive aggressiveness and occasionally seen hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Do not overfeed this breed, for it has a tendency to become obese and lazy.
The Belgian Shepherd/Groenendael will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. The Groenendael can sleep outdoors, although he prefers to be with his people.
This is a working dog that is accustomed to an active outdoor life. As such it needs a lot of exercise, including a long daily walk. In addition, they will greatly benefit being off the leash as much as possible in a safe area.
About 13-14 years
Average 6 – 10 puppies
The Belgian Shepherd/Groenendael has a long, straight, medium length, heavy outer coat and a dense under coat that requires daily combing and brushing. Extra care should be given when the dog is shedding. Clip out mats that form, particularly in the ruff and on the legs, and clip hair from between the toes and on the outer ears. This breed is a seasonal, heavy shedder, shedding twice a year with some additional shedding throughout the year.
The Belgian Shepherd, known as the Groenendael worldwide, and named for this village in Belgium, is one of the four varieties of Belgian Sheepdogs. In most parts of the world the four varieties: the Groenendael (black, long coat, pronounced Grow-en-en-doll), the Laekenois (fawn, rough coat, pronounced Lak-in-wah), Malinois (fawn-mahogany, short coat with black marks and overlay, pronounced Mal-in-wah), and theTervuren (fawn-mahogany, shades of gray are acceptable in some registries, long coat with black mask and overlay, pronounced Terv-yer-en) are all considered one breed. However in America, since 1959, the AKC has recognized the Groenendael, Malinois and Tervuren as separate breeds, but has not recognized the Laekenois at all. A less well-known, but growing U.S. registry, the UKC, does recognize all four varieties as one breed. All the Belgian Sheepdogs developed from hardy working dogs, which ensures that the modern breeds are compatibly gifted on the field. The Groenendael was developed by Nicholas Rose, a breeder form Groenendael, Belgium who established the first Belgian Sheepdog kennel with a pair of black sheepdogs, Petite and Picard d’Uccle. Their progeny became the foundation stock for the breed. The highly intelligent and protective Belgian Sheepdog/Groenendael has been used in herding, as a police and war dog in both World Wars, in drug detection, search and rescue, schutzhund, and as a family companion and guardian. Although the Belgian Shepherd is not for everyone, this high energy dog makes an excellent family companion if properly socialized and trained. Today the Belgian Groenendael and Tervuren are most often used as companion dogs while the Laekenois and Malinois are used as guard dogs.
Herding, AKC Herding